President Donald Trump threatened to permanently cut U.S. funding to the World Health Organization and "reconsider" membership of the global health body if the WHO does not adopt "major substantive improvements" within 30 days.
Trump's demands, made in a letter sent Tuesday to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, are an escalation of the president's attacks on the organization. He accused the organization of "repeated missteps" during the coronavirus pandemic and demanded "it can actually demonstrate independence" from China.
"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste," Trump wrote in his ultimatum, which comes about a month after he froze WHO funding pending a formal investigation into the international health body and its coronavirus response.
The letter lists a series of allegations Trump said reflects how the United Nations agency missed early warning signs over the virus' spread and then blithely accepted China's lack of transparency over the outbreak, such as whether the coronavirus could be transmitted between humans. The WHO initially circulated preliminary Chinese claims that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.
In his letter, Trump did not outline what the WHO needs to do to satisfy his demands. On Monday, Trump called the U.N.'s health body a "puppet of China."
The WHO did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the action.
The organization has previously disputed claims from the Trump administration that it acted too slowly in sounding the alarm over coronavirus. Public health experts have long warned the agency is overly bureaucratic and in need of reform. Little evidence has emerged to substantiate accusations from Trump administration officials that the WHO deliberately acted in concert with China to obfuscate what it knew about the outbreak.